Google wants us to walk … sort of

Here’s a cool thing: I was looking up mileage on Google Maps for a potential run in a nearby small town, and in addition to three potential routes with their corresponding drive times, the site also presented a fourth option: Walk.

The first three routes varied between .8 miles and 1.8 miles to get from Point A to Point B, each taking 3 minutes by car. Google Maps estimated it would take 16 minutes to walk there instead.

Is this new? How does Google decide which routes are walkable and which aren’t? When I plugged in our home address and Ben’s high school 1.2 miles down the road, it suggested only a single route with an estimated drive time of 1 minute, but no “walk” directive. Is this because there are no sidewalks? Is this something factored into the Google Maps algorithim?

Next I tried three destinations all originating from the Fort Wayne Newspapers building. The downtown library (.4 miles, a 2-minute drive) and the Botanical Conservatory (.8 to 1.0 miles, 2-3 minutes drive time) both offered a “walk” suggestion, with an estimated time of 9 minutes for the first destination and 16 minutes for the second. But the third destination, to the Three Rivers Natural Food Co-op, .9 miles away and a 3-minute drive, got no “walk” suggestion or estimated stroll time.

It’s not like I need Google Maps to tell me whether I should walk or drive, bike or run to get where I’m going. But it doesn’t hurt to remind people that it only takes a few more minutes to walk most places that are less than a mile away. (And for what it’s worth, yes, I’m still walking to the bread store from work, even though the street construction is completed and the weather is crappier.)

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3 Responses to Google wants us to walk … sort of

  1. Sandra says:

    Psssst. 🙂 I just nominated you for an award. I’ve been SO busy I’ve not kept up lately, but I surely miss reading your positive, encouraging posts! Glad I have a month before crazy starts again 🙂 Maybe I can finally lose weight this year. Dammit. I have to!

  2. MikeR says:

    I wonder if crossing the railroad tracks plays into the lack of walking directions to the co-op. I’ve never used Google maps to get walking directions, though I’ve used it for biking directions.

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